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The U.S. government on Monday will stop conducting an enhanced screening of passengers on inbound international flights for COVID-19, Yahoo News has announced yesterday.
The screening operations have been held at select airports since January, when the first cases of the disease began to emerge from Wuhan, China. Since March, incoming international flights from select high-risk countries, including much of Europe, China and Iran, among other regions, have been funneled through 15 designated airports in the United States.
As of Monday, however, international flights will no longer be funneled into select airports for screening purposes and all screenings will come to a halt, according to communications and sources. All screenings and rerouting of select international flights will cease at exactly 12:01 a.m. on Monday, 14 of September.
Currently, travelers upon arrival to the United States are sent to health screeners who take their temperatures and conduct a basic health screening with questions about typical COVID-19 symptoms. After the health screening, passengers proceed through passport control and customs.
One aspect of the screening is that travelers provide contact information, which can be used to perform contact tracing for infections. Without that information, it likely won’t be possible to contact passengers on a flight who may have potentially been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19.
The orders to cease prescreening operations came from the White House, with strict orders to keep the information secret until a public announcement is made. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the various agencies — and contractors — involved in the airport screening operations are working frantically to prepare for Monday’s shutdown.